As we get geared up for the 2019 season, we’re ranking every position for fantasy baseball. We’ve already done our top 20, top 40, top 60, and top 80 outfielders for the season; today, we wrap up with our top 100.
For what it’s worth, these rankings are really for people in really deep leagues. Most of these players are going to go undrafted in standard leagues.
The rankings are still divided into tiers named after my favorite Yes albums because hey, why not?
Also worth noting: A “y” designation means that player is only eligible at that position in Yahoo! leagues and not ESPN leagues.
No. 81: Avisail Garcia (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)
Pretty much no one expected Avisail Garcia’s 2017 to repeat itself, but this past year was especially bad, in part thanks to an injury that cut out a lot of his season. Now with the Rays, Garcia will likely be DH-ing for them most of the time, and if he’s able to stay healthy, there’s a chance he could be useful. While he did hit .236 last year, that came with a .271 BABIP and a .261 xAVG, so I think his average could get better. Plus, he hit the ball pretty darn hard last year, hitting 19 home runs in just 93 games. Pace that out to a full season, and you’re looking at a nearly 30-homer season. And supporting that power was an 11.6% barrel rate, so I think the power could definitely come for him this year, especially playing in the AL East.
I was really surprised Willie Calhoun wasn’t promoted to the majors sooner than he was last year; he looked major league ready, but I guess the Rangers just wanted to wait. I’d be shocked if he’s not up in the majors to start the season this year, and there’s a chance he could be productive. His 35-game showing this past season wasn’t great, but it’s a small sample size. The guy showed near 30-homer power in the minors and the ability to hit in the .290s. Obviously I’m not expecting that — that’s more his ceiling — but if he’s given a decent amount of playing time, he could have a decent average with some power.
I feel like Clint Frazier has kind of been forgotten, but he’s still a good prospect who likely has a path to some playing time this season. The question will really be how much playing time Brett Gardner gets. I could see the Yankees either tossing Frazier out there or platooning him with Gardner, and if the latter happens, that means Frazier’s only playing against lefties, which isn’t great. Still, the guy is talented and showed he could be a 20-home run hitter with a really good average in the minors.
I think at this point you have a pretty decent idea what you’re going to get from Kevin Pillar. It’s not going to be amazing, but he’ll likely go around 15/15 with an OK average on a team that’s not going to get him a ton of runs or RBI. In deep leagues, that’s a fairly useful player. He’s going to give you a little bit in most categories, and he’s definitely going to get playing time thanks to his defense.
No. 85: Steven Souza (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)
After a pretty excellent 2017 campaign, Steven Souza moved to Arizona and promptly got injured, eliminating about half of his season. Even better, when he did play, he was pretty terrible. If you’re drafting Souza, it’s because you hope some shade of 2017 comes back, and I mean, that’s definitely possible. He still walked pretty well last year, with a 10.3% walk rate, and if he’s able to keep that up, he’s a bit more palpable in OBP leagues. And if he stays healthy, there’s a pretty decent chance he can go 20-25/10, but that average is going to be rough.
We know that Max Kepler has some decent power: He’s been hitting more and more home runs with each passing year (17 in 2016, 19 in 2017, and 20 last year). I think you can count on him for another 20 or so home runs this year. The problem is his average, which was a miserable .224 this past year. Now, that being said, that .224 average did come with a .236 BABIP, so it’s perfectly reasonable to think his average will get better this year. But I don’t think you can bank on much more than a .240s/.250s hitter. Coupled with around 20 home runs, that’s honestly a pretty generic outfielder.
Chris Taylor followed up his great breakout 2017 with a really pedestrian, uninteresting 2018. I think we all expected some regression, but what he put in last year wasn’t super useful for most fantasy teams. His .254 average this past year came with a .345 BABIP and a .243 xAVG, so I wouldn’t be overly shocked if that regresses a bit next year. But I think you can also likely count on him for around 15 home runs and around 10 steals, which is somewhat useful. And in all honesty, if you have Taylor on your team, I’m betting you’re using him in your 2B or SS slot rather than outfield.
Kevin Kiermaier hasn’t really put in a full season since 2015, so I don’t think you can really count on one this season. However, if he’s able to put in a full season, he’s got a decent power/speed combo that could be useful, and he’ll be leading off the Rays lineup, which helps too. Even in seasons where he’s played around 100 games, he’s been able to turn in 15/15 years, and I truly believe that 20/20 is possible (though obviously it’s his ceiling). But he’s risky. That being said, with a full season (or mostly full season), I could see Kiermaier going 15/15 with a .240s average, and this deep in the outfield rankings, that’s perfectly usable.
Tier 10: ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’
Adam Frazier looked like a pretty meh fantasy player this past year. A good real-life player but not much for fantasy. He can turn in a good average, I don’t think another .270s year would be too hard for him. And he has some modest power, but that’s about it. The real question is: Can he pick up in the speed department? He had just one steal this past year in 113 games but stole 21 bases between Triple-A and the majors in 2016. If that 20-steal potential comes back, he’d be much higher in the rankings because a 10/20 .270s player is very useful.
Kole Calhoun finished this past year slashing .208/.283/.369 with 19 home runs, so why on earth would you consider putting him on your team? Well, first off, I think 2018 was a tale of two seasons for Calhoun. He started off terrible, slashing .187/.237/.319 in the first half, mostly driven by bad luck and a terrible BABIP. But then the All-Star break and August came around, and he caught fire, slashing .295/.370/.541 from the All-Star break through the end of August. And then went back to being bad in September. So what can you expect from Calhoun? Well, I think he can be better; I think around 20 home runs with a .240s average is perfectly reasonable with the potential for plenty more.
No. 91: Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
I love Tyler O’Neill, and I have for a long time now. But the problem is he just cannot find any playing time. I mean seriously, the guy has shown in the minors that he can hit 30 home runs, steal double-digit bases, and hit for a good average. But where is he going to play on the Cardinals this year? He’s not going to supplant Marcell Ozuna, Harrison Bader, or Dexter Fowler, nor will he take Jose Martinez’s place as a backup outfielder/platoon outfielder. So where’s O’Neill playing? Probably in the minor leagues unfortunately. But when he does finally get consistent playing time in the majors, watch out.
Kyle Tucker lit up Triple-A last year, slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 home runs and 20 steals. Now, that’s clearly his ceiling in the major leagues, but that’s the kind of talent he is. But will he get playing time? Honestly, barring an injury in the Astros’ outfield, I doubt he’ll get much. He’s clearly major league ready, but with George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick in the outfield, I don’t see a clear path to playing time for Tucker.
Brian Anderson was another one of those guys whose season was just fine this past year but nothing special. A .273/.357/.400 slash line with 11 home runs and 87 runs is perfectly serviceable, but he’s not an overly useful fantasy option. Still, I think he could turn in a season similar to what he did in 2018, and that’s usable in deep leagues.
No. 94: Marwin Gonzalez (SS/1B/2B/OF, Free Agent)
As of this writing, Marwin Gonzalez hasn’t signed anywhere yet, but wherever he signs, I don’t see him as a super awesome fantasy option. The season he had in 2017 where he hit .303 with 23 home runs wasn’t sustainable and, in all honesty, kind of came out of nowhere. The season he turned in this past year, slashing .247/.324/.409 with 16 home runs, sounds more reasonable and is more in line with the rest of his career. That’s about what I’d expect from him this year (maybe the average goes up a bit), which is fine if you need him but I’d bet you’re using him at a non-outfield position if you’ve got him.
As I mentioned when I was talking about Clint Frazier, it’s not abundantly clear how much Gardner is going to play. I could see him being the fourth outfielder and the Yankees letting Frazier play out there, or I could see him platooning with Frazier. Even at 35, Gardner still has some value left in him. He’s only a year removed from a 20/20 season and was able to hit 12 home runs with 16 steals this past year, albeit with a .236 average. I think the average will improve, but I don’t see him hitting much more than 10-15 home runs with about 10-15 steals, assuming he gets the full-time gig, which is far from a guarantee.
Woof what a season Jay Bruce turned in this past year. Marred by injury, Bruce looked like garbage, hitting just .223/.310/.370 with nine home runs in 94 games. Now he’s in Seattle, and he’ll have the playing time; we’ll just have to see if he can stay healthy. If he does, I think betting on 20-25 home runs is perfectly reasonable (I’m not expecting he surpasses 30 again), but I think a poor average is likely in the cards. However, he’s more useful in OBP leagues if he keeps up the 11.4% walk rate he had in 2018.
Nick Williams isn’t super useful right now, and he might end up entirely useless if the Phillies sign Bryce Harper because he’ll be the odd man out. If he gets the playing time, Williams has shown he can hit 15-20 home runs with an OK average, and I think that’s doable again. That being said, I could also see him platooning with Scott Kingery or being benched entirely if, like I said, the Phillies get Harper.
No. 98: Yoenis Cespedes (OF, New York Mets)
In July last year, Yoenis Cespedes‘ season was ended when it was announced that he would be having surgery on both of his heels, with a projected recovery time of eight to 10 months and a rehab time that could extend a fair bit beyond that. Cespedes himself believes he’ll return at some point this season, and that’s why he’s ranked here. If he’s out there and healthy, we all know how exceptionally good he can be, but it’s not looking likely that he’ll be back any time before July or August this season, if at all.
Delino DeShields Jr. was somewhat useful when he was stealing about 30 bases and hitting around .270, but that changed big time last year when he hit just .216 and only stole 20 bases. The guy has plenty of speed, so that’s what you would draft him for at all in a deep league. But he’s not going to give you any power, and his average isn’t going to be particularly good either. He’s a speed-only guy.
The only reason, and I mean the only reason, you’d consider having Keon Broxton on your team is because of the 20/20 potential he’s flashed in the past (i.e. in 2017). His average is hot garbage because he strikes out like it’s in his contract, and he’s about as inconsistent as they come. But the guy has good power and good speed and therefore he has potential to contribute. Now with the Mets, I’d honestly expect him to be either a bench bat or platoon with either Brandon Nimmo or Jeff McNeil, but I don’t think you can expect much production out of him at all.
Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire